According to the U.S. Africa Command, U.S. service members were with Somali forces in an operation aimed at clearing al-Shabab, a terrorist organization, from villages and establishing a permanent combat outpost.
A USA special-operations forces service member was killed and four others were wounded in Somalia Friday after they came under small-arms and mortar fire from suspected members of an al Qaeda affiliate, the Pentagon said.
A military official told AFP the dead American was a special operations commando, but further details were not being released pending notification of next of kin. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the service members".
Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, DC, said about 500 U.S. troops are deployed in Somalia, including highly-trained special forces and Navy Seals. "The U.S. provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission".
An American commando was killed Friday in an attack in southern Somalia that also wounded four U.S. military personnel along with a Somali soldier, officials said.
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The Pentagon has carefully monitored the spread of radical Islamic jihad across Africa but insisted that American troops are there to train and partner with local forces, not necessarily to fight.
Three of the four USA service members were transferred for medical treatment while the fourth received medical care on the spot, the Washington Post reported.
Details of the incident were first reported by the New York Times, which said American forces came under small arms and mortar fire while operating alongside Somali troops at a small outpost in the southwestern part of the country.
Miliken's was the first USA combat death in Somalia since 1993, when 18 US service members died battling Somali militiamen in an episode that became known as "Black Hawk Down".
Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, who heads U.S. Africa Command, said at a Pentagon press conference that he had taken steps to better ensure the safety of U.S. service members in future operations.
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It was also a 3rd Special Forces Group team which was hit in Niger previous year, an ambush which killed four American soldiers and led to a massive investigation by the Pentagon.
Trump approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab in early 2017, leading to an increase in USA military personnel to more than 500 and the launch of dozens of drone strikes.
There are now about 500 United States troops in Somalia who have been there since 2013 advising local forces battling the al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab.
Late previous year US drone strikes also began targeting a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State group in Somalia's north.
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A US military report on that incident publicized by the Pentagon last month without being fully released found that multiple individual and institutional failures left the USA troops vulnerable to the ambush.